[WFRP 2e] Maximillian Interlude 1

My PC
Maximillian Morningglory, Halfling Agitator
Magnus the Pony

My companions
Udrin Sor-Valdir - High Elf Wizard
Ludovic Hasselhoff - Human Entertainer
Gustav Jaeger - Human Priest of Verena

From Maximillian's Play-by-Post:

(Previous updates)

Ubersreik is a river town of about 3500. They see a large river warehouse district and a crowded thoroughfare. Maximillian soon recognized that there were opportunities for "barking" on any street. He was soon approached by a tall man, "6d a day for 50 sheets barker." The man introduced himself as Matthis Maselhoffer, a printer's apprentice. 

"Come to my master's shingle, Unterbaum's Paper and Ink on Alt Strasse in the Alt quarter no later than when the bells toll once past Abendessen for payment." Matthis thrust a bundle of broadsheets at Maximillian, bound by a hemp string.

Maximillian looked it over:

The Sins of the Common Bürger authored by the Richter von Reiklander (Judge von Reiklander)
I judge the common man sinful and dishonorable in all activities…

"Ah, for all Shallya's Mercy, I'm not paying you to read it. Just hit the high points! Man is corrupt. Man is tainted. Only Sigmar cleanses and cleansing is only by sword and flame, blah blah blah.

"Mind you, Master Unterbaum just prints it, but The Judge," Matthis rolled his eyes and said the name with a drawl, "pays well and has his specific instructions: short half-ones, penniless dwarves, or begger elves. Pays is double for dwarves and elves if you know any."

Matthis shoved the broadsheets into the halfling's arms.

"And don't just think you can throw them in the tavern hearth for heat and a pint of apple beer. I have ways of finding out. Ah, blast it, quit reading it."

"How am I supposed to know what to tell people if I don't read it?" Maximillian wondered if he could get Ludovic to dress up like a dwarf... "Yet I'm already very familiar with Sigmar's tenants. My friend Magnus keeps me up to date. As a matter of fact, he would probably like one of these.

"I shall do as you request. Unfortunately my elf friend is neither a beggar nor prone to join me..."

Maximillian set to handing out tracts in his spare time, listening closely at the gossip of the big city:

"Brauzeit is the month after next, I worry for the braumeisters with Geheimnisnacht nigh. Remember last year?"
"The spoilt beer! Agh, do not remind me."
"The spoilt beer AND the forked tongues! all the forked tongues!"
"Ja! I almost drank that last pint."
"Osric is paying priests and wizard alike to ward his stocks this year. I hear he's even sent for a priestess of Valaya to bless the barrels!"
That night, Maximillian asked his traveling companions where they were expecting to be on Geheimnisnacht. Udrin admitted they would likely be in Ubersreik, unlikely to book passage on a ship from there to Altdorf until the Night had passed.

***

Unterbaum paid each evening as promised, and the 12d earned have been welcome. Maximillian saw a number of halflings at the print shop, all collecting a day's earning. Still the outsider, the others quietly reviewed him. He was pretty sure he'd seen them watching from afar. At Unterbaum's, Masselhoffer had broadsheets for all of them this pay day:

"The Coven's Reckoning," he said as he handed them to each halfling. "You know the Judge! 'Geheimnisnacht will purge the guilty. The fornicators shall be paid in blood.' Be sure to bark a lot about the flayed whore in the slums. Say something that the Coven arrives earlier each year. Whatever gets the sheet in a worried citizen's hands. A bonus to be paid for the next three days all the way to the night of 'mystery. Oh, one more thing, make sure to play up any rumor about Der Bär you want to add or are asked about."

Later that day, there was finally an exchange with the other halflings under Unterbaum's employ:

"Max Willowand and Thomas Alepuddle at your side!" exclaimed the tallest of the two Halflings, as they both tossed two or three dozen broadsheets into an alley fire stand. "You're an honest one to be sure. Watched you pass out all your broadsheets!"

"Time for a pint or two I think before Unterbaum's, what say Maximillian?"

"Max, do you want to tell him about those haughty elves following his rakish friend?"

Max shoved Thomas. "Of course, but we don't want Maximillian here to think we're spying on him. We're not spying on you of course."

Naturally Maximillian wanted to hear about the haughty elves following his rakish friend. It sounded absolutely fascinating!  They spoke of discrete, cloaked elves that followed Ludovic with no one seemingly noticing them. Maximillian started to keep a watch for these elves.

***

Ubersreik's Three Days of Geheimnisnacht started at midnight.

Osric's Alten Schule tavern started getting crowded at noon the first day. The rumors of Osric's warded ale and wine stocks were well known in the town. A general call had gone out in the rumors that he was seeking all blessed priests and studied arcanists to aid in warding new stocks lest he run out before Geheimnisnacht. What he was paying was wildly reported.

Unterbaum paid 8d for 50 broadsheets each day in the run-up to Geheimnisnacht. The alarming headline one day: Judgement to the Flayers of Die Huren Strasse.

Women of questionable reputation were found flayed in an alley near the "red light" quarter. No sounds, no screaming, only masterful dissections of whores were found by the watch.

Fear that Ubersreik was to be given over to Slaanesh on Geheimnisnacht was whispered over pints.

Max Willowwand and Thomas Alepuddle pressed broadsheets to chests, male or female. They demonstrated that the subject's reaction, with quick reflexes, left a broadsheet in a tangle of a clothes and arms. The shouted curses and missed punches kept them both dodging and seeking the next recipient. A crumpled, tossed, or thrown back at the halflings, broadsheet still counted as "offered and taken."

Thomas ran across the street to meet Maximillian. "There! Max II." Subtlety was not a virtue of Alepuddle. Maximillian followed the arm pointing to the tall, but hooded and cloaked figure, across the street. The figure turned into the market crowd abruptly and with purpose to disappear behind a palanquin with four broad, naked-chested porters, and into the crowd.

Maximillian and Thomas were suddenly yanked back by their collars. Masselhoffer knocked both of them on the collar. "Too close together. The broadsheets, halflings, need to be all over the city, not just the market! Unterbaum is not paying you to stand around gossiping about pie or smoking pipes."

Maximillian headed in the direction of the cloaked figure instead.

"Yes!" Masselhoffer pushed the back of Maximillian's head. Maximilian was sure Masselhoffer pulled on his hair intentionally as he shoved him. Turning around, Maximillian saw Masselhoffer stuffing one hand in a pocket and pushing Alepuddle with the other. "Off you go back across the street!" Masselhoffer looked at Maximilian.

"What?!"

Maximillian zipped off after the hooded and cloaked figure.

He dashed across the street in the direction of the cloaked figure and ran headlong into the street crowd of the market, all standing two or more feet over him.

After what seemed like minutes, the crowd cleared for a moment in front of a tavern. Pushed into the crowd and followed closely by two watchmen was Ludovic.

The crowd folded around Maximillian again.

He followed the watch and Ludovic to the north gate watch gaol. The gaol and watch tower were stone, crowded by tall tenements and shops capturing the attention of many entering Ubersreik. A third watchman, ranking Maximillian assessed, caught up to Ludovic and his captor from behind.

Ludovic was passed to guards at the tower and shoved roughly though the door. The two original watchmen stood with their sergeant and accept something from him. The sergeant dismissed them both, and they departed across the street. Then to Maximillian's delight the tall cloaked individual he initially sought to follow approached the watch sergeant from the alley along the quarter wall.

A brief exchange took place that Maximillian couldn't quite see, and the watch sergeant let the cloaked figure into the tower. 

Outside, Maximillian assessed the watch house and gaol. It was two stories above ground with three chimneys, two on the north wall and one on the south. Iron grates covered a set of windows on the north side that opened below street level. An unhealthy air drifted from the south from an open sewer ditch fed from almost all quarters of Ubersreik into the River Teufel downstream of the pool. Two watchmen sat next to each other at the entrance.

Maximillian wasn't exactly sure what to do...He searched for windows to talk to Ludovic through. He presumed the window set into the street might provide a view into the gaol house.

Sneaking through the street to the window was possible; the guards were oblivious. Through the window, Maximillian saw Ludovic being shoved into a chair. A watchman counted coins on the table, and the tall cloaked figure stood behind in the corner.  Someone was paid to arrest Ludovic, and Maximillian had no idea why.

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